Light wind racing was the order of the day for Saturday’s Summer Offshore Series Virtual Mark Race with the 18 starting teams trimming as much weight as possible, thinking light and racing tactically.
The sub-10 knot forecast prompted Race Officer Denis Thompson to shorten the originally-planned 100-nautical-mile course to the 55-nautical-mile alternative. In effect, this meant the virtual marks were brought closer to Sydney Harbour, and their new positioning issued to competitors.
The north-easterly conditions meant Thompson sent the fleet south out of Sydney Heads first, making for a broad reach out to the first virtual mark rounding off Cronulla. After finding and recording their first rounding, the fleet beat north for the second virtual mark off Mona Vale before rounding and heading downhill for the finish line in Watson’s Bay.
Director Dr Sam Haynes’ TP52 Celestial was the light-wind racer of the day, managing to hold onto David Gotze’s RP 63 No Limit for most of the race despite the 11-foot size difference. After a tight battle, Celestial came home less than 15 minutes behind No Limit after a nearly 11-hour race.
With an exceptional race, the Celestial team had done enough to hold onto the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicaps giving them a clean sweep of the top level of the podium. Second IRC, ORCi and PHS Div1 was Seb Bohm’s TP52 Smuggler while No Limit claimed third place.
After winning their division in many (almost all!) of the races they’ve entered this year, Carl Crafoord’s Cookson 12 Sail Exchange continued their dominance at the weekend by taking out Division 2 in both the IRC and ORCi handicaps. Second place IRC and ORCi Div2 was enjoyed by Kim Jagger’s Sydney 38 Cinquante while third went to CYCA Treasurer Janey Treleaven’s Beneteau First 45 Finn.
The podium was slightly rearranged for PHS Division 2 with Cinquante claiming top spot, Finn second and Sail Exchange third.
A wonderful success story of this season has been the introduction of two-handed sailing to CYCA’s Sailing Program, with teams making up a third of all starters in the Virtual Mark Race. What was especially great to see was a number of teams making their two-handed racing debut and the growth this area of the Sailing Program is experiencing.
Two-handed racing stalwart Rupert Henry and his Lombard 34 Mistral took both the two-handed line and IRC honours with Peter Franki’s Sydney 36 Salt Shaker second and Mark Ayto’s BH 36 Local Hero third.
Due to the conditions, the separate Two-Handed Pointscore Newcastle race was held as part of the Virtual Mark Race where Local Hero reigned supreme.
The Virtual Mark Race was the second in the new, three-race Summer Offshore Series. The series will conclude with the Sydney Newcastle Race 1900hrs Saturday 20 March.